Providence Municipal Reparations Commission

On February 28, 2022, Mayor Elorza signed a community-driven Executive Order establishing the Providence Municipal Reparations Commission to address the injuries outlined in the Truth Telling and Reconciliation phases and provide clear recommendations to the City on appropriate policies, programs, and projects to begin repairing harm. The Commission will have 13 members, with seven members appointed by Mayor Elorza and six members appointed by the Providence City Council.

Rodney Davis, Chairperson, appointed by Mayor Elorza
Arnell Millhouse, Vice-Chairperson, appointed by Mayor Elorza
Jessica Brown, Commissioner, appointed by Mayor Elorza
Wanda Brown, Commissioner, appointed by Mayor Elorza
Lanre Ajakaiye, Commissioner, appointed by Mayor Elorza
Ray Watson, Commissioner, appointed by Mayor Elorza
Jim Vincent, Commissioner, appointed by Mayor Elorza
Dwayne Keys, Commissioner, appointed by Providence City Council

Within the first meetings of the Reparations Commission, members agreed to the following core values: Be bold, center innovation, have impact, be future-facing, transformational, list to each other and the community, be uplifting and center healing.

Community engagement will be a core process for the Commission. We encourage you to attend one of our upcoming community meetings throughout the City of Providence!

Municipal Reparations Flyer
Community Meeting Municipal  Reparations flyer

Additionally, public comment will be part of meetings, and for those who are unable to join, we encourage you to submit your public comment here.

For meeting agendas and minutes, please visit the online Open Meetings portal here and search Providence Municipal Reparations Commission.


 

Meet our Commissioners!

Rodney Davis

Rodney Davis, Chairperson
he/him/his

Rodney Davis is a communications, marketing, events strategist, lgbtqia/social justice/human and civil rights activist, and artist who was born and raised in Newport. In the early 1990s he left Newport to begin a new life in Providence after being disfellowshipped from the ministry with Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is here where he began his work as a social justice and civil rights activist. Rodney had the privilege to serve as President and VP of the RI Alliance which led the charge for LGBTQIA+ civil rights. He previously served 20+ years as co-chair and then president of Rhode Island Pride and was then tapped to lead the organization again in 2021. Davis is an active member of the Providence AAAG and recently was a co-facilitator/artist for the All Black Lives Matter mural in Kennedy Plaza. He is a graduate of College Unbound where he was a Diversity Leadership Scholar and a graduate of the Alpha II class of Leadership Rhode Island.

Lanre Ajakaiye

Idrees “Lanre” Ajakaiye
he/him/his

Lanre was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. He is a graduate of Classical High School, the University of Rhode Island Talent Development Program and MBA graduate of Boston University. His corporate background spans over 15+ years of success building sales divisions at real estate startups in NY, marketing, and contact center leadership responsibilities for international and domestic teams. He is a 2021 Who to Watch Providence Monthly Honoree and a 2022 MLK City of Providence Hall of Fame Inductee. Most recently, Lanre has quietly served on the African American Ambassador Group since the beginning as an integral part of the team which helped to reignite the removal of the Plantations name at the city level moving on with success to the state. Currently, he is the CEO of 25 Bough Street, a mixed use, commercial development to empower the community in the heart of Olneyville, Providence, Rhode Island.

 

Why did Lanre join the Providence Reparations Commission?
Systematic racism across housing, education, real estate and employment, mental health, wellness and more have ravaged the lives of BIPOC communities.  Furthermore, dramatic wealth and educational gaps persist and are growing.  The aforementioned arise from the detrimental impacts rooted and placed in motion by slave systems which still affect the current state progression, attainment, achievement and fulfillment.   The current data and statistics are clear and much of the history is known; however, there has been a silence and trepidation in corrective movement until now.  It is high time for action towards atonement. This is stated with my belief that properly crafted; the atonement will make us a better city, state and nation. We must divert from the easy path which positions that these things happened yesterday, deflect and deny while separating the realities of committed atrocities with some outcomes we see today.  This Commission affirms this connection between the past and present.  My decision to serve on the Reparations Commission is to assist and play my part in setting the course and recommendations of what some – not all – atonement for the myriad of effects of a slave system that continues to impact many until today. Moreover, we will harness the community voice broadly understanding the criticality of the work and moment. Ultimately, the goal is to help to transform the many impacted lives for a better tomorrow through an unblinded, view of the past.     

Jessica Brown

Jess Brown
she/her/hers

Jessica Brown is a multidisciplinary spectacle generator, community builder and creative connector creating disruptive & humorous work centered around race, gender and politics. Utilizing a Liberatory Design practice, she curates spaces to bring people together incorporating  pop culture references and bright colors- always through a lens of joy to empower, uplift and encourage discourse.  She is unapologetically Black. An Assistant Professor in Industrial Design at Rhode Island of Design, she serves on RISD’s board of Social Equity & Inclusion (SEI), and is proud to have been a board appointee to serve on the committee to hire their new President. Within the Providence community she is very active, including currently serving as an African American Ambassadors.

Wanda Brown

Wanda Brown
she/her/hers

Wanda Brown is a highly regarded lab faculty member at College Unbound at the Providence campus for the past six years. She is successfully in long-term recovery and manages amazing relationships with people in her community being a strong friend and support system. Wanda holds a Masters Degree from Springfield College in Management and Organizational Leadership and Change where she graduated in 2015. She currently leads as a facilitator for the Providence African American Ambassadors Group. Wanda has been extremely active within this group of Black leaders along with their allies in the social justice and reform space on a municipal level for the past two years.  Additionally, she works with Black Lives Matter of Rhode Island, is a board member of the LGBTQIA+ organization Rhode Island Pride and is proud to serve as an appointed member of the new Providence Municipal Reparations Commission. Wanda is the proud mom of four adopted and amazing children.

Dwayne Keys

Dwayne Keys
he/him/his

Dwayne Keys has spent over 18 years advocating on behalf of historically excluded & oppressed communities for economic justice & full inclusion in economic prosperity. A 22-year resident of the Southside of Providence, Dwayne is a Financial Coaching Manager with Compass Working Capital, providing financial coaching to families with low incomes in support of them building assets & financial capabilities while also overseeing a team of financial coaches – he’s also an Accredited Financial Counselor® & pursuing certification in Financial Social Work. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Dwayne earned his B.S. in Marketing & M.B.A. in International Trade.

Why did Dwayne join the Providence Reparations Commission?
Given his commitment to economic justice for Black people, Dwayne welcomed the invitation from the City Council as their appointee to support the efforts as an additional way of helping families in Providence rise up out of poverty, prevent displacement, & close the racial wealth gap.

Arnell

Arnell Millhouse
he/him/his

Arnell Milhouse is a tech community influencer, cryptocurrency investor and co-founder of CareerDevs Computer Science Academy and IntraCity Geeks. His non-profit teaches rigorous computer science at the K-12 level and has a mission to disrupt income-inequality for those in under-served and under-skilled communities. Arnell is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Brown University, Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and serves as an advisory board member at the philanthropic organization created by Barbara Papitto.

Jim Vincent

James “Jim” Vincent
he/him/his

Since 2011, Jim has been the president of the NAACP Providence Branch. For the past 10 years, Jim has also been a member of the Cape Verdean Progressive Center. Professionally, he has worked at RIPTA since 2013 first serving as the Civil Rights Compliance Officer and currently serving as agency’s Outreach Officer. Previously beginning in 1990, Jim worked 22 years in housing, first as the East Providence Housing Coordinator and later the Manager of Constituent Advocacy at Rhode Island Housing Authority. Jim holds a BA in Government from Dartmouth College and a Masters in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Ray Watson

Raymond Two Hawks Watson
he/him/his

Raymond Two Hawks Watson is an Artivist, Community Activist, Educator, Cultural Practitioner and Convener with 10 years of experience in nonprofit executive administration. Watson’s skills consist of program development & implementation, grant writing, motivational speaking, leadership & cultural development consulting, community organizing and event planning, supplemented by an extensive background in promoting and supporting cultural equity & development initiatives and programming in the Rhode Island community. Watson is the recipient of the Rhode Island Foundation’s 2016 Innovation Fellowship.